Update: Dec. 19, 12:35 P.M.
While demonstrators marched and shouted, Wisconsin's 10 presidential electors cast their ballots for Donald Trump, during the noon hour at the state Capitol on Monday. Police escorted one protester out of the voting room, after she yelled, "This is my America. You sold us out." A contingent of demonstrators chanted, "Shame." Trump carried Wisconsin by nearly 23,000 votes, becoming the first Republican to win the state's presidential vote in decades.
Original story from Dec. 19, 6:00 A.M.
Many eyes will be watching today as the Electoral College meets at state capitols across the country to officially cast ballots for president. The process has come under fire this year because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, while Donald Trump picked up the electoral votes needed to win.
The vote here is expected to go smoothly. That’s despite reports that some Republican electors in other states are considering not installing Trump as president. In addition, protesters are expected to demonstrate at all 50 state capitols, including in Madison.
The Electoral College is as old as the republic itself, according to Barry Burden, political science professor at UW-Madison. He says the nation’s founding fathers set up the system because they didn’t have much confidence that voters would make the right decisions.
“It was instituted as a kind of filter that could reduce the amount of influence that the average member of the public had over selection of the president. Not only were not many Americans even eligible to vote for president if they weren’t for example, male property owners they were probably disenfranchised. But even for those who could vote, their vote was only symbolic,” Burden says.
So, in presidential elections, each state is assigned a certain number of electoral votes. In Wisconsin, it’s ten. Burden says earlier this year, both parties met to pick their electors -- typically a mix of party leaders and citizens. Because Trump won Wisconsin, the Republican electors will be the ones participating in today’s proceedings.
“It’s quite a ceremony, the electors will convene, their might be some speech making or other kind of rituals, then they cast their electoral votes,” Burden says.
Burden says he’s never attended a ceremony, but plans to stop by to observe this one. It’s open to the public. He says usually the ceremonies are uneventful, but this time, the room could be packed.
“There really has been an unprecedented amount of interest in the Electoral College over the past few weeks, in a way that we haven’t seen in a very long time. This year I think there’s much more interest because there’s concern about Donald Trump as a candidate and a potential president-elect, and surprise that so many of the states the Democrats had won in the past including Wisconsin, went red this time around,” Burden says.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission will preside over today’s meeting. Electors will select a chairman who will announce the results. Burden predicts a unanimous vote, yet he notes that some electors in Wisconsin have been pressured not to vote for Trump. Burden says he doubts any of them will cave.
“One of the electors from Madison has received about 75,000 messages, emails, letters, faxes and a variety of contact from around the country and around the world in fact. But she is apparently steadfast and it sounds like the other electors are as well,” Burden says.
Burden says nothing out of the ordinary has ever happened during Wisconsin’s process. But, he says technically in Wisconsin it’s against the law for an elector to cast a ballot for anyone other than their party’s nominee. Many other states have adopted similar policies.
Donald Trump needs 270 electoral votes to be elected president. His count currently stands at 306; if it happens that he falls under, the House of Representatives would pick the president.